Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lesson #5: Racism Does Not Matter Anymore by Akindele Akinyemi

I am a driven thinking person by nature. That said, I must admit one one end that what I am about to say was difficult to write and I know for some it will be difficult to read as well. We have to remember that good relationships are built on honest communication and constructive criticism. And so, the driving force in me says let’s go to the deep end of this collective thought and give progress a green light.

But first, let me say…

Racism just doesn’t matter anymore. Yes, I said it.

But “doesn’t matter,” is different from “doesn’t exist.”

Am I saying that racism doesn’t exist anymore? No.

Am I saying that racism and discrimination are no longer terminal cancers on society? No
Or that racism and discrimination have somehow been miraculously eradicated from society? Absolutely not.

Or maybe that somehow mankind has succeeded in getting out of its own collective way, and has instead been reborn anew; unfailingly fair, reasoned, and compassionate? Of course not.

And it is “no” I might add precisely because we are all, well, very human. Imperfect. Making matters worse, people today are what I would call spiritually lazy too; and thus prone to accept either a backwards dogma they grew up around or simply one laid out before them and presented as Truth.

To this day, racism and discrimination seem to impact and effect almost every facet of life for the average African-American in this country. But racism is not just an African-American phenomenon.

For example,Japanese Americans were discriminated against, in this country, in the early 1940’s during World War II, and stripped of their rights as American citizens; simply because of their race. As we have subsequently learned many of them were great American patriots. 6 million Jews met a deplorable fate at the hands of the Nazi’s, again because of Adolph Hitler wanted a “pure” Aryan race. This was hatred at its best.

For centuries “the lighter and brighter” have, on the whole, achieved more and done better than their darker complexion brethren, in almost every country around the world. The “Masteso” in Mexico, a darker ethnic mixture of the native Indian and the Spaniard, are locked within a century old class-based system of structural poverty – both economically and educationally – while their Spanish bred brothers and sisters, arguably the ruling class in Mexico, own more than 90% of the shops and businesses, run industry and lead the political power structure. Ever notice what the typical Mexican immigrant looks like that’s risking life and limb and placing almost unbearable pressure on our borders in their attempt to enter the United States for a better life for their families? A little Indian maybe? A little…well, “darker” than their Spanish brethren?

Sounds like how the Chaldeans control 90% of the economics here in the City of Detroit while 80% of the city is Black.

In this day and age, racism will increasingly rear its head in the form of an economic class structure, and indifference. Increasingly, the problem is not a matter of love or hate, but indifference. And indifference is the death nail of the soul. Period.

Today in 2007 our wealth, defined by your level of education, will be your access to cutting edge information resources, and your ability to manipulate and manage this information, will define the quality of your life and the future lives of your family, much more than race and place ever did. Racism in the 21st century will be defined by class and poverty.

Increasingly in this day and age, people’s response to urban poverty and crime, the widening gap of the rich and the poor, families breaking up due to the lack of communication and support, and the AIDS pandemic in Africa is not our problem.

As we are preparing for the upcoming Genesis Project we are not seeking to force people to love each other. That will happen on its own when we sit down and gain an understanding about the importance of building families will help decease poverty in our community. Our Project is simply about creating real opportunity so that poverty and wealth do not symbolize threats to one another.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about “the check that remains unpaid.” Dr. King and his generation fought for the right to vote. Equal opportunities in housing and the workplace. Removing restrictive covenants from trust deeds, overturning oppressive laws, and eliminating separate but unequal facilities. The basic civil rights Americans need simply to exist, to function in society.

20th century racism in the old South was in many ways much easier to identify and deal with than 21st century racism will be in the new North. Because the greatest threat in the new era of racism is not hate, which identifies itself, but indifference, which doesn’t care enough to.

In the world that Dr. King faced, it was easy to figure out who the evil person was. It’s the guy with the Klan robe on. The guy who spits on you. The guy holding the dogs that are attacking you. The sheriffs with the fire hoses drenching you with water. It’s easy to fight that enemy, to make war against that devil. But how do you fight in this kind of struggle? Where’s the enemy? How do you fight this war? The amazing answer is this: You can’t fight it by fighting it.

You can’t win this war by protesting from the outside. You’ve got to go inside, into the banks, into the corporations, into the government offices. You’ve got to massage. You’ve got to negotiate. It’s not about coercing people to change. It’s about convincing people to change.

In this day and age it will take a different perspective on the battle. It means changing the way somebody sees what’s happening in their world – our world - so that we are ultimately creating fundamental change through a change in fundamental perspective; a paradigm shift. There is no room for laziness and excuses.

My job in urban communities is to change the way people see themselves and see their community. My job as an educator is to change the way we conduct business and see their own responsibilities.

It’s a different kind of a battle today. You can’t picket this thing into reality. It’s much more amorphous, because the kind of work we need to do today requires hard work ad dedication. It’s much more subtle to affect a bank’s lending policy, or the decision-making process of a supermarket chain or a “big box” chain store like a Wal-Mart’s, when they’re considering whether or not to build in the inner city. It’s not flashy, and it doesn’t necessarily attract mass public attention – at first…. To use and invert the meaning of the popular catch phrase from the civil rights era — the whole world isn’t watching.

To affect the thinking of corporate America in this manner, to change the way that people who run banks view the inner city and the under-served and the wealthless, to move government towards compassionate yet useful, results oriented action, is kind of like, well,roaming dogs. You can’t easily get your hands around it. No good deed shall go unpunished.

But at the end of the day I am not trying to convince individuals, corporations and our government to invest in urban communities because it’s the right thing to do, even though it is that in spades. Rather, it’s the only thing to do, if we want to create true future Michigan prosperity, and if we want to grow this great state economy of ours even further. If we want additional efficiency, and new, emerging markets in this country, we can only get them in the future from under-served, urban inner city and low-wealth communities.

It’s not about whether you love Black folks or Hispanic folks. I mean, I’d like you to, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. It’s okay if you don’t love me – because I love me. God has no grandchildren; you have to have your own relationship with him.

America is the richest nation in the world. We can do better than a simplistic and uninspiring model where the rich seem to be getting richer, the poor definitely seem to be getting poorer, and the middle class is struggling simply to stay that way. Middle.

I tell people all the time, “it’s okay if you don’t like me, because I like me…” When you have yourself together, and you are comfortable in your own skin, problems that other people have about race and ignorance simply begin to solve themselves… and they carry less importance to us and our respective lives. “It’s okay if you don’t like me, because I like me…. And to argue with a fool, only proves that there are two!”

At the end of the day, the “White man,” the boogieman, or any other man, is just a distraction. The main attraction – the problem and the solution – is staring us all in the mirror. This of course includes me.

I believe that the meaning to life, managing life, and success in life, is well within our understanding, and our grasp.

· The purpose of life is to become transparent to God’s will.
· The key to managing life, is managing pain; both your own and the pain brought to you from others.

African-Americans in particular are a religious and spiritual people, but we must also come to better understand and appreciate that faith without works is dead.

One cannot say “let go and let God,” and then grab the steering wheel halfway through a turn in life because you have decided you want to help God drive! Put another way, “If you’re going to pray, why worry, and if you are going to worry, then why pray!”

One would that the shackles are no longer on our hands, feet and body, but our mind, heart and spirit. John Hope Bryant of Operation Hope says, “there is a difference between being broke and being poor. To be broke is an economic condition, and to be poor is a disabling frame of mind and a depressed condition of your spirit. …And we must vow never to be poor again.”

Racism and discrimination are alive and well in society today, and for that reason I am very thankful that organizations such as the NAACP and are working full-time to identify it where it rears its ugly head, and to eradicate it. I do not always agree with the NAACP but at least they attack the problem the very best they can in an organized manner.

The greatest threat to African-Americans and other ethnic minorities and the under-served today is not racism and discrimination, but poverty. Spiritual poverty.

The Greek word for poor, as used by Jesus Christ, is poucos, which means productivity. To be poor doesn’t mean you don’t have anything, it means you aren’t DOING ANYTHING!

Poverty is cured by hard work, for Proverbs 10-4 states, “lazy hands makes a man poor.”

Proverbs 6-10/11 asks, “how long will you lie there you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come on you like a bandit, and scarcity like an armed man.”

When families begin takes responsibility for their own life, and begins to enrich themselves and their life with love, wisdom and knowledge, a marketable skill, economic education, economic empowerment and ultimately ownership… self esteem will soon follow. And with a healthy self-esteem poverty dissipates and falls away, and is replaced with wealth and the understanding of owning oneself.

At this critical stage in one’s life, life changes because what you see depends on where you sit.

When we do this as a team…

And when we decide to truly love, respect and value ourselves, our wives and husband, boyfriends and girlfriends, and most importantly our children…

…the problem called racism simply solves itself.

The Beginning Path


FreeMan said...

Coopted Ex-Progressive - To the Victims of Race Discrimination that happen now it does matter - it does matter that certain people will target other people for attack based on their race or ethnicity - it doesn't matter how intelligent or $ that race or ethnicity is still subject to attack & the US should do more to eliminate racism - like pressing Hate Crimes against the the West Virginia 6 or dismissing charges against the Jena 6 it occurred in 2006 & 2007

FreeMan said...

Through the US slave system which demonstrates racism against Black Afrikans society teaches that Black Afrikan crime victims aren't protected = as White European-American crime victims because of racism People of Color